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We talk a lot about how to build a strategic content marketing strategy around your website. But in order for that strategy to be effective, you have to know whether it’s working. That’s what marketing metrics are all about.
We deliver a marketing metrics report to our clients on a monthly or bimonthly basis, depending on the retainer we have with them. For those monthly strategy sessions, we want to be sure we’re delivering a metrics report that aligns with their strategy so that they can see whether the actions they’re taking on their site are having a meaningful result. This process is a collaborative one between us and our clients, where we bring our marketing know-how to the table, and they tell us what results will have the greatest impact on their business.
The exact metrics we track can change from month to month, but keeping some consistency between metrics is important to be able to track year-over gains. Here’s how to think about your reports strategically so that you can learn what you need to know from your monthly strategy session.
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The first thing you should do is identify your primary business objective for your website. Are you trying to build marketing leads, create an influence campaign, sell more products, or sign up members for your service? What are the steps you would use to achieving each goal?
For most of these, your task probably begins with growing traffic to your site, but it can also mean growing your social media followers or increasing sign-ups to your email list. And this is just the first step. Ultimately you’ll want to convert traffic to leads, and leads to customers. The more you can learn about the behavior of visitors on your site, the better you will be able to influence these decisions. Knowing what you want them to do will help you know where to look.
Some of the baseline metrics we track for all of our marketing reports include web traffic, time on site, and bounce rate, as well as lead sources and visitor attribution. Tracking this information every month helps us see short-term changes in traffic behavior, but it also helps us identify year-over trends that are the result of natural busy seasons.
However, we also look for specific metrics for each user that are tailored to that client’s goals. For our ecommerce clients, we may look more carefully at cart abandonment rates in order to find ways to remarket to those customers. For non-profits, we may focus more on social media engagement to see how far their message is spreading. And for large business-to-business clients, we may focus on email metrics, such as open rate and click through rate.
Each metric ties into the overall goal for the client, so that we can map actions to outcomes and make adjustments where necessary.
Sometimes, when we start to build a report of the month, we’ll notice a significant variation in the baseline metrics. Maybe a spike in traffic, a sudden drop in cart abandonment, or a particularly good open rate on an email campaign. In some cases, the cause is obvious: we started a new ad campaign, we ran a sale on that day, or the email touched on a particularly hot-button issue. When we set out to enact a strategy, and the strategy went as planned, and we got the result we wanted, we pat ourselves on the back and move on.
But sometimes that aberration is unexpected, and when we don’t know why it happened, it’s important for us to get to the bottom of it. In some cases, the answer may not be knowable—maybe something huge happened on the news and it distracted everyone for the day, or maybe something in the zeitgeist meant a bunch of people suddenly chose that day to go sign up for our newsletter. Either way, we try our best to understand it so that we can replicate it if it was good, or take preventative measures if it was bad.
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Finally, use your metrics report as a starting point for planning actionable tasks for the future. If you’ve noticed that your traffic has fallen off and that you’re also not ranking for some of your target keywords, it may be time to write some blog posts on that subject. If your sales team isn’t getting as many leads as they would like, it may be time to develop a new pieces of downloadable content and run an ad campaign to support it. And if you have a big event coming up and need people to register, it’s time you started planning your email list.
Then, once you have that to-do list in hand, remember to identify what metrics you’re going to track for the next month to see how well you succeeded.
It can be easy to let all the numbers on your marketing report blur together month to month. Metrics like your web traffic, your bounce rate, and your click through rate start to feel like abstract concepts, rather than the important data points you need to move your web strategy forward.
However, the time we spend on reporting is critical to the success of your business. It’s what helps us form the strategies you need to move forward, and it gives you the raw data you need to know that what we’re doing works.